Church in a bar… really?
Chances are you’ve heard that Pastor Trevor is inviting folks to do some sort of church in a drinking establishment. Maybe this the first time you’ve heard it. Either way, you’ve got to be wondering what that’s all about. I’m here to answer some frequently asked questions.
Why in a bar?
We want to “see all the people.” If you look around at any church on Sunday morning you might realize that all of the people in our community aren’t sitting in the pews next to us. There are a lot of reasons for that. Some are disenfranchised by the church. Some have been hurt. Some don’t see the church being relevant or making an impact. When I was a seminary student working construction I had numerous conversations with folks about faith. They had unending questions about God, scripture, and how faith impacts life. When I invited them to church they said, “No &#@*# way.” Many of them felt like they weren’t good enough for church or that “their type” wouldn’t be allowed. I’ve encountered so many folks who want to work out their faith but are convinced they can not do that in the local church. When I asked them where I could meet them they suggested the bar. So, we go where the people are.
But isn’t the bar full of sinners?
Yep, just like the church. We’re everywhere. I’ve noticed people are more apt to be honest and authentic at the bar when asked a question like, “how are you today?” Haven’t you ever wanted to be able to share with others how things really are going? Haven’t you wanted a place to voice your doubts and ask the tough questions? This is that place. We think the church can be that place, too, but it takes a lot more work! We hope this authenticity permeates our churches.
You don’t drink though do you?
I do. But you don’t have to. I love craft beer. More importantly, I love being able to break down boundaries and create safe places for conversation. A pastor having a beer with folks really seems to do the trick. It’s important to set boundaries and stay healthy. All good things can be bad if overly consumed or abused.
What about alcoholics?
Now this is a great question! I’m no stranger to substance abuse. I’ve experienced it in my family. This is a real concern. I’m working to familiarize myself with alcoholic anonymous and other folks who really know how to help others who struggle with substance abuse. Building relationships with folks is the starting place. Once others know you care about them, you can be genuinely helpful as you walk with them through their struggles. We don’t recommend continuing to come to the bar if you struggle with abuse but we do want to stay in relationship so we’ll have to meet in other places also!
Does it have to be in the bar?
Absolutely not. Coffee shops are great, too. So is the gym. And the park. And anywhere else people are already gathering. This movement is about meeting people in the community. Seeing ALL the people in ALL the places. God’s love and grace has no limits. Neither do we. We see you. So this group is starting by meeting people in the bar. Or as is the case for WDM, the brewery. You’re invited. When you join us, bring that friend or family member who says they don’t like church. We think they’ll find this gathering very meaningful.
Are others doing this as well?
Oh yes! People of faith meeting in the bar isn’t a new idea. However, this neat little Bar+Church expression has official groups in Indianola, West Des Moines, Council Bluffs (in planning), and Choteau, Montana so far! We think this is important work so please keep this ministry in your prayer that we may see all the people in all the places.
I have a lot of really good stories from my work in the Indianola Bar+Church over the last year and half. I’d love to share those stories with you. All you have to do is ask! You could even join us and be a part of some of these stories yourself.